Shropshire Star

Talking Telford: Some calm after the storm - but how long before the next arrives?

Storm Babet has been and gone, and left in its wake a trail of destruction, despair and no small amount of determination.

Flood defences up in Ironbridge

Shropshire has been battered by rainstorms and floods in the past - every year we prepare to spend February obsessively checking the ups and downs of river levels and visiting the people of the Ironbridge Gorge, which is always one of the first places to put up the blue flood barriers and hit national headlines when the River Severn bursts its banks.

But this one-off destructive weekend in October, caused by a storm that battered the entire northern half of the UK, felt different. There was the terrible news coming from the south of the county that a man in his 60s had been swept away by flood water and lost his life.

Far further down the scale of Storm Babet, there was also the eerie sight of the M54 near Wellington completely closed to traffic on Friday because of standing water in the road. The busiest road in Telford, shut entirely because of the weather and leaving motorists to find their own way around it for hours on end - I can’t remember anything quite like it.

I suspect we’ll be back here again quite soon though. Global warming, wetter winters and drier summers are going to mean these freak weather events are going to get a lot less freakish over the next few decades. Maybe the M54 will need its own flood protection measures when future storms come to town.

People in Ironbridge have taken the extreme weather on the chin at least - speaking to my colleague Megan Howe who visited the village this week, members of the Ironbridge business community largely gave off the sense that they had been able to prepare for the expected deluge, take the financial hit of a quieter-than-usual Saturday of trade and then open again for business as usual on Monday.

It’s an admirable ability to roll with the punches and one I expect you need to have as a business owner - especially if your business is in a gorge ruled by the biggest and most powerful river in the country.

There are of course situations where too much determination can be a bad thing - Storm Babet brought us the usual photos of drivers all over Shropshire trying to drive through knee-height flood water and suffering the inevitable consequences, having to call out overstretched emergency services to rescue them. Discretion is the better part of valour, especially when it comes to freakish weather.